Saturday, May 26, 2007

French Laundry reprise

Well cheeselings, I survived the French Laundry experiment, though my stomach is still distended and my palate is still spent, a full 48 hours after the event.

I'll try to give you the rundown with accompanying photo essay, but to be frank, articulating each culinary nuance and flavorful flourish would take all day. And despite what many of you think, I don't sit here in my jammies and pink fuzzy slippers blogging the days away. There are fledgling veggies to be tended, chutneys to be invented (more on that to come), and frillies to be mended. That last one's not likely to happen today, or in the next long while, as the old Singer's been gathering dust, having taken a backseat to all the kitchen activity in recent months.

So, let's get on with it then.

First, naturellement, le mise en scene:

Kelly, our hostess, opted for a casual setup with small plates and wine pairings around the kitchen island. The low lights cast a warm, coppery glow that felt like an elegant brasserie, and I so appreciated the decision not to seat us around a formal table in straight-backed chairs, clinking silverware and minding manners. This way, no one hesitated to lick fingers, double dip or dive into the saucepan with torn hunks of rosemary bread after a particularly luscious course.

And now, the food.

Cornets with Wild Salmon Tartare and Red Onion Creme Fraiche

Kelly made these delicate little lovelies and in the spirit of their creator, gave them a playful name when she had to alter their shape due to equipment restrictions. Rather than forming them into cones, she used a cannoli mold and thus, dubbed them salmon cannoli, a nice nomenclature nod to the always clever Keller.


I made these and gratefully found the recipe straightforward, though it seemed heavy on the salt. I suspected something was off when I tasted the pate au choux batter, and my suspicions were confirmed when all agreed the finished pastry was far too salty. I have to think the full tablespoon of salt listed in the recipe is a mistake–it's hard to imagine Keller's gougeres tasting like a salt lick.

Sweet Pea Soup with Parmesan Crisps and White Truffle Oil

Tori made this soup, which was a marvel of delicate flavor layers. She made a veggie broth of sweet peas, carrots and fennel and I was amazed that I could taste all three in a harmonious balance. The soup was drizzled with white truffle oil and served with a reggiano crisp.

Fava Bean Agnolotti with Curry Emulsion

Kelly decided to make this last minute, and I for one, am tres grateful. It was the creamy, dreamy piece de resistance. The fava beans encased in silky pillows were bathed in a subtle curry buerre blanc, and just the thought of it makes me swoon.

Salad of Haricot Verts, Tomato Tartare and Chive Oil

Watching CC assemble this was a lesson in patience and precision. First the chive oil, stenciled with a tin round. Next, the tomato "tartare" gently tamped into a cake. Topped with haricot verts in a cream sauce, assembled crosshatch, like a log cabin. Capped with a bouquet of frisee. And finished with tomato powder. Yes, powder. Not purchased, made fresh that day. And yes, I was well out of my league.

Whipped Brie de Meaux with Croutons and Mache

Here, I whipped the brie and then created quenelles (smooth, oval scoops) and stacked them between crostini atop a port reduction. The side salad was just a simple mache tossed in blood orange olive oil.

"Banana Split" Roasted Banana Ice Cream with White Chocolate Banana Crepes and Chocolate Sauce

What can I say? Jodi's dessert was bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S. From what I understand, this was four days in the making. And yes, it tasted *that* good.

And merci to Terry, house sommelier.

Wow. Blogging that was like actually eating at the French Laundry: a reeeeeallly long affair. Looks like I won't get to last night's lamb or this morning's adventures in chutney till tomorrow. Until then...


Anonymous alison said...

what a great idea and a wonderful meal......very inspiring Jamie!

2:57 PM  
Blogger Paige said...

I can not believe I just ate a crap piece of cold pizza when a world like this awaits....where I can be served and eat food that actually resembles food more than something scraped off my shoe. Damn it, damn it son-of-a-bitch.

1:59 PM  

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